Thursday, April 23, 2009

Picture Post

First, I promise to get back to blogging the Guatemala trip soon.

Here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks since, surprise, I'm way behind!

Some pics playing in the yard in the water. Miss G starts swimming lessons on Saturday and I am hoping she catches on quickly and we can spend more time in the pool this summer. She certainly loves the water, but she needs to learn some basic skills to make it easier to go in with her.

We went to a birthday party at a petting zoo/farm. Gabriella loved all the animals. Sadly, my camera battery died not too far into the trip, so I missed a lot of great photos. We got to pet turkeys, catch chickens, ride a pony, milk a cow, hold baby chicks and ducks, pet and feed sheep and go on a hayride.

More pictures of my little model. Poor lighting choice with all the shadows, but oh well.....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Guatemala Mission Trip - Part 2

Monday, March 31

Monday morning we left Chimaltenango and drove through the mountains to San Andres. Unfortunately, this was when I started not feeling well and so the drive was not a lot of fun for me. But, it was still beautiful. We saw a lot of farms along the way. One of those farms had the biggest carrots I've seen in my life. I wish I could have seen them up close to really see just how big they were!

San Andres is the home of New Hope Ministries. It has a church, a preschool/daycare and they are expanding and setting up small "efficiencies" where missionaries can stay when they come to help.

Kim and Andrea went on from there with Mayan Families to visit with Alex's family in Tierra Linda. Alex was the baby that Kim and her husband fostered in the U.S. last year when he had cleft-palate surgery. I know they had an awesome experience.

Julia, Bryan and I spent the day at New Hope. This was a day filled with many conflicting feelings. I felt a lot of hope when we walked in and saw this:

The children were all attending preschool and they were practicing writing their letters. Some children barely older than Gabriella already were able to write!!! What an opportunity they are being given. Education is so very important and many of the children in Guatemala are not fortunate enough to be able to go to school. I'm sure many of their parents are illiterate.

But, I was also struck by how dirty many of the children were. Many of their faces had scabs where they had scratched themselves. As we would come to realize the next day(more on that later), many had lice, sores all over, horrible conditions on their feet/toenails,etc. And these are children from the community who all have families. So, it is a stark reminder of just how desperate the situation is there.

They had recently gotten new playground equipment and the kids were so excited to be able to swing and slide and have fun outside.

One of the goals Global Orphan Team had for the visit to New Hope was to educate the caregivers on hygiene, cleanliness, preventing the spread of illness,etc. So, Julia presented her ideas and wrote them on a board and it was translated to the nannies. They really seemed receptive and we hope they learned a few things that can help keep everyone healthier. While we were there, we had someone get things like bleach and spray bottles so they could spray the table down before eating. We also realized they were changing the babies in cribs that were filled with blankets and stuffed animals. So, a project for Bryan for the next day was born - build a changing table!!

I spent some time going over directions on giving the kids fever medications and I wrote up labels in Spanish with dosing instructions.

Snack time.

One of the future visions of New Hope is to be able to hire more staff and separate the babies from the older kids so that both can get the attention they need. The babies spent the day in strollers or slings because they don't have a safe area for them to play. And there isn't enough staff to tend to both groups at the same time if they are separated.

Some of the kids were getting out of school in town while we were eating lunch.

It was great to see the kids all get a hot, healthy meal for lunch. I'm sure for most it's more than they get at home.

We dubbed these three girls "The Three Mommies". We had given out some toys and they got dolls with bottles. They carried the dolls around and fed them from that point on and were so adorable the way they cared for their babies.

Monday afternoon, we said our goodbyes(but, we return the next day) to New Hope and drove about 45 minutes to Panajachel. I wish there wasn't so much smoke in the air from burning off of crops so that the view would have been better. I wasn't able to get any pictures of the lake from up in the mountains. I can only imagine how spectacular it must be on a clear day.

You couldn't see across the lake to the other side either. Apparently, you can take a boat to the other side and go ziplining. That is on my to-do list for another trip!

Panajachel was fabulous! We stayed in a great place that was right on the lake. We had enough time for me to get a shopping fix in (man, I love bargaining!) and then we had a nice Italian dinner that night.

The next morning, we went to go and buy some school supplies to take back to New Hope and we got to witness quite the sight. I can best describe it as a street-cleaning party. And let me tell you, they were all making it fun! They were cheering and yelling and getting into it.